Having spent the last few days away, journeying by plane, train, bus and Tube, I've been taking covert glances at other travellers' reading material and analysing my own ability to read on the move.
Our morning flight to London seemed to be largely full of business people for whom checking email was more pressing than reading for pleasure, but there was the odd book in evidence, the new Ian Rankin and an Iain M. Banks, for example. Going into the city on the train I noticed a young woman deeply engrossed in a dictionary of physics, while later on the Oxford-Heathrow coach a fellow passenger was reading The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen, and I finished Trains and Lovers.
At Heathrow itself on the way north again we had a very long stay indeed due to a technical problem with the plane which meant disembarking and waiting for another aircraft to be found for us. Among our fellow passengers were two politicians, but I wasn't close enough to see what, if anything, they were reading. Former PM Gordon Brown was obviously whisked away to some V.I.P. lounge when the flight was held up and must have made other arrangements as we didn't see him again when we eventually went northwards, but ex-chancellor Alistair Darling stayed around and chatted to people in the terminal; if he had a book with him it was stowed in his bag.
I found I couldn't settle to my book at all while I was waiting with no definite indication of a departure time. We had regular progress updates from the captain (who came up to the gate frequently to make announcements and answer passengers' questions) but despite his best efforts the wait went on and on. One lady nearby clearly found The Hunger Games diverting enough, but I couldn't get on with my novel until we had at last taken off. That was no fault of the book's, I hasten to add, but something to do with needing to feel 'settled', wherever I am, to give my concentration to any text. Do you find that too, i.e. a defined wait is fine for reading but an apparently open-ended one is not? Does it depend on how gripping your book is? Are there books which absorb your attention to such a degree that external circumstances and events are irrelevant and you are oblivious to what's going on around you?